Mio DigiWalker C520 Refines Portable GPS

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Portable GPS devices have come a long way from the monochrome-screen devices that used to be mainly of interest to niche markets like boaters, hikers and geocachers. Now that GPS is being peddled to the masses for everyday driving, companies are scrambling to make it more palatable to the everyday user. Mio Technology’s new DigiWalker C520 aims to give GPS technology that final polish with a wide screen, spoken word directions, Bluetooth integration, and digital media player capability.

Although the C520 is small enough to carry with you, its 4.3-inch LCD is more like what is found on most bulky car-mounted GPS units. It can display a full-screen map, or optionally split the screen, with the traditional map on one side and data on upcoming destinations on the other. Users could, for instance, set one side of the screen to show how far until the next gas station or restaurant. It comes preloaded with 6 million points of interest along with complete maps of the United States and Canada.

"As the form and function of GPS continues to evolve, we feel wide is where it’s at," said Kiyoshi Hamai, North American sales director for Mio Technology, in a statement. "Many of our customers are asking for enhanced displays, and we felt we had to go bigger just to fit in all the new features of the C520."

The C520 also translates directions directly to spoken instructions so drivers don’t have to take their eyes off the road. Along the same lines of safety, it can be synced up with Bluetooth-enabled cell phones to allow hands-free calls from the C520’s integrated microphone and speaker.

Finally, the GPS unit also includes 2GB of on-board flash RAM and an SD expansion slot, making it possible to load movies or music onto the device. You’ll need a Bluetooth-enabled car stereo to hear your own media in top form, though, unless you want to settle for the C520’s built-in speaker or a Bluetooth headset.

The C520 is available immediately for $399.95.